Restorations set to revitalise Regal Theatre

Regal Theatre manager Kim Knight and the theatre’s Foundation chairman Richard Diggins. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d426397
Regal Theatre manager Kim Knight and the theatre’s Foundation chairman Richard Diggins. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d426397

Regal Theatre Foundation chairman and former Subiaco Mayor Richard Diggins said a recent $1.5 million Lotterywest grant would help finance the long- overdue restoration program.

‘Our first stage will be works on the balcony upstairs, adding strength to the structural attachment and replacing the western staircase with a fireproof steel structure,’ Mr Diggins said.

‘The entire roof will also be replaced, which will eliminate a major issue during winter when patrons have an unexpected shower from time to time.

‘Stage two will commence late 2015 and see the installation of new seats, major works to the auditorium, electrical upgrades and painting the theatre (to closely match its original colour scheme).’

Few people know the Regal Theatre better than its manager Kim Knight, whose father Stan Bird and John Thornton of Interstar took over the theatre in 1977.

‘I spent a lot of time here as a little kid sitting in the back lounge while mum and dad worked,’ Ms Knight said.

‘My first job was at the theatre as an usher and helping run the box office; answering the phone and taking bookings.

‘She is starting to show her age and now is well and truly the time to restore. For me, the biggest thing will be to repair what is needed without compromising its character and ambience. It is so important to me to maintain the reputation we have worked hard to establish over the years.’

Ms Knight said she was most looking forward to seeing the building looking its best with a fresh lick of paint.

‘The new seating is absolutely critical as some of the seats here are more than 26-years-old ” and we purchased them second-hand at that,’ she said.

‘We’re working to close our doors during our least disruptive period, typically over Christmas and New Year, and then tack on time after that. It will absolutely be worth waiting for.’

Mr Diggins said the Lotterywest grant would fund the first two stages but realistically the theatre needed about $10 million spent on it.

‘This is the only theatre I know of in Australia that is not supported financially by the government, we run entirely on a private basis, There are going to be activities subsequent to its re-opening in 2016 to raise money and hopefully take the restoration further,’ he said.